How to Clean Battery Terminals?- In 5 Simple Steps

cleaning battery terminals

Car battery corrosion is one of the main causes of decreased battery life and performance. Not only can built-up battery corrosion prevent your vehicle from starting, which would be a hassle in the morning when you’re heading to work but it can lead to a number of other issues, including damage to the vehicle’s air conditioning and electrical wiring.

Luckily, car battery corrosion is easy to spot. Very often, and especially with older batteries, you will start to notice a white, green, or blue-tinged covering around your vehicle’s battery terminals, battery posts, or battery cables. This build-up of chemical garbage reduces the conduciveness of the battery and leads to a transient current flow, which is a fancy way of saying that it can result in a malfunctioning battery due to electrical resistance.

Keeping your vehicle battery clear of corrosion promotes an extended battery life and battery performance. But fear not! The process of cleaning battery corrosion is straightforward and simple and can be done by anyone.

How To Clean Battery Terminals?

1. Locate the Battery

Most car batteries are located underneath the hood and are on the left or right side of the engine bay. With some models, such as the Chevrolet Cobalt, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, and the BMW 5 Series, the battery is located in the trunk.

In other vehicles like the Grand Cherokee, Audi A7, Ford Transit, or Mercedes ML the battery is located under one of the front seats. Some Dodge vehicles even place the battery behind the front wheel inner fender liner. If you can’t find your battery, consult your owner’s manual.

2. Lift the Terminal Covers

Plastic or rubber covers protect most batteries and must be removed to access the clamps that connect the cables to the terminals. In some cases, a buildup of residue, identified as a white powder, may need to be cleared away. Don’t forget to put on a pair of work gloves and don your safety glasses.

3. Disconnect the Car Battery

Each clamp fastened to the terminals must be disconnected. You will do this by loosening the negative clamp first, followed by the positive clamp. The clamps are commonly held on via bolts and nuts.

If excess corrosion is present, you may need to use metal pliers to disconnect the terminal from the batterer post. If the terminal is really stuck, you may need to try a special tool called a battery terminal puller.

While working on the battery, avoid touching other metal objects, such as the frame of the car, otherwise, you risk shorting out the battery.

4. Choose Your Cleaning Agent

When it comes to cleaning the car battery, you have a choice of two cleaning agents. The most common one is baking soda. Here, you will mix two tablespoons of baking soda with an equal amount of water in a clean container.

Stir the solution to form a paste, then use a toothbrush to apply the paste to each terminal. The solution will begin to sizzle as it interacts with the corrosion. Use a wire brush to remove the remaining residue. Alternately, you can use a cola product to clean the terminal.

Simply obtain one new, 12-ounce can. Then, evenly pour the entire contents directly on the battery terminals to get the job done. The advantage here is that you don’t need to make a paste. Just follow up with the wire brush, if necessary.

5. Rinse and Dry

With the terminals now nearly free of residue, you’ll need to remove the paste or soda to finish cleaning. A spray bottle containing water will do; simply wash each terminal to remove the dregs. Then, use a rag and dry each terminal. Lastly, spray battery terminal protector on each post to curtail future corrosion.

6. Reconnect the Clamps

Connect the positive clamp first, followed by the negative clamp. However, if you notice residue, clean it off before reattaching. Use a wrench to tighten as needed. Lastly, put the rubber or plastic covers over each junction. Your work is done, the battery is clean and you’re ready to put your tools, cleaning agents, and gloves away.

Maintaining your car’s battery should help keep it in sound working condition until it’s ready to be replaced. The average life of a car battery is about four years; therefore, it should be tested with a multimeter on occasion. Hot weather is its biggest enemy and will degrade a battery faster.

Related Article: How To Charge A Car Battery?

cleaning battery terminals

How To Clean Battery Terminals with Stuff You Already Have?

By cleaning your battery terminals, you can actually help the car battery perform stronger, longer! We’ll show you how to clean the terminals and help prevent car battery corrosion in only FIVE steps – with materials you probably already have at home like Protective gloves, like dish gloves, Baking soda, Water, Old toothbrush, Rag, Petroleum jelly.

1. Mix Up Your Homemade Battery Cleaner.

The recipe is simple. Mix one tablespoon of baking soda into one cup of water, and stir it together until it’s thoroughly mixed.

2. Undo the Cables from The Battery and Inspect It.

Make sure your engine is off. Pop opens your hood and removes the negative battery cable first. Then the positive cable is attached to your battery. Some batteries may be in the trunk or under a seat. (Turn to your owner’s manual for more information.) Then, assess your battery.

Buildup, battery corrosion, and grime on the terminals can greatly impact your engine and battery performance.

3. Dip A Toothbrush in Your Cleaner and Start Scrubbing!

Grab an old toothbrush, dip it in your baking soda cleaner, and start scrubbing the terminals. This will take a little bit of elbow grease and you’ll need to continuously clean off the toothbrush as you work. Clean the terminals thoroughly, until all of the buildups have been removed. Do not put the toothbrush back in the bathroom!

4. Rinse Off the Residue with Water and Dry.

After you’ve removed all of the corrosion and dirt from the terminals, give the battery a quick rinse. Fill up a spray bottle with a bit of water and spray down the terminals. If you don’t have a spray bottle, you can also wipe everything down with a damp rag. Then, use another rag to dry the terminals completely.

5. Rub Petroleum Jelly onto The Terminals and Reattach the Cables.

Once the terminals are dry, dab a bit of petroleum jelly onto them. This will lubricate them, help prevent further corrosion, and help strengthen the connection. Reattach the positive and negative cables, and you’re all set! Be careful, too much petroleum jelly can cause a poor connection.

Related Article: How to Jump-Start a Car?

Take Safety Precautions

The potassium hydroxide that leaks from batteries are a corrosive material that is highly toxic. The caustic material can cause skin irritation and damage your eyes. It can also cause respiratory problems.

Always take the following precautions when cleaning batteries.

  • Avoid contact with your skin. Make sure to wear rubber or latex gloves.
  • Keep your eyes safe by wearing safety glasses.
  • Make sure the area is well ventilated.
  • If the potassium hydroxide makes contact with your skin, flush the area well with water.

Keeping your car battery clean can help get things moving when your car won’t start and the battery flow is weak. Staying on top of your battery’s charge is crucial to avoid getting stranded.

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